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A startling discovery

December 1998 | by Marie Hyams

My parents were Jewish, and my earliest memories of childhood in our pleasant North-East London home were quite happy ones. My father and mother did not strictly follow the Jewish faith, but I can recall observing the festivals and going to synagogue with them from time to time. The reason we did that was tradition, but it did not mean much to me. I never really understood what was going on, as it was in a language I had never learned – Hebrew – and no one explained anything. Later on in life I turned away from Judaism. In our home God was not spoken of, and although I had heard he made the world, he seemed very remote, and something of a mystery.

I first heard about Jesus through religious education at school, when I was about seven years old. I vividly remember being fascinated by these lessons, because Jesus seemed to be such a special person, telling such wonderful stories and curing people of such terrible diseases. My enthusiasm at school was dampened at home, when I was told, ‘We don’t talk about him’. But why not, I wondered, for he too was a Jew? I had lots of questions, especially ‘Why was Jesus killed?’ but I never received satisfactory answers from my father or mother.

The light of the world

Much later, when the subject of the meaning of life came into conversation, everyone I met had the same answer – ‘Enjoy life. When you’re dead, that’s it!’ But I could not believe this. Some of these people were well educated and intellectual, and they thought I was naïve to think otherwise, but I was convinced there must be something more.

For most of my life I worked as a secretary in the City of London, where there are many lovely churches which I enjoyed visiting for their peacefulness. In St Paul’s Cathedral I was particularly drawn to a painting of Jesus called The Light of the World. It showed Jesus at a door, waiting. But was he for me, a Jew? One work-colleague did not seem to think so. She felt sorry for me because she thought Jesus was only for the Gentiles.

A startling discovery

1993 started badly for me, with a number of personal and family crises. It was then that I again met a Gentile girlhood friend. I remembered how some years earlier she had become a Christian and how she had been so changed and full of joy. We began to talk about God, and she gave me books to read. I began to learn so much; it was wonderful and exciting. I began to read the Bible.

Although there were many things I did not understand, I did make one startling discovery – the prophecies which I had always assumed were in the New Testament were, in fact, in the Old Testament, the very Scriptures that Jews claim to accept. The verses of Scripture which I had heard so many times when listening to Handel’s Messiah, words like ‘For unto us a child is born’, were prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament! I DIDN’T KNOW!

The mystery of Jesus’ death

But when I began reading the New Testament then it all became clear to me. I began to grasp the mystery of Jesus’ death, how it fulfilled the prophecies, and how his sufferings were a sacrifice for his people – FOR ME! I can clearly remember how, on the evening of 21 May 1993, all these things came home to me. After many tears, I asked God to forgive me. I believed in Jesus as my Messiah and Saviour, and he came into my life. It was overwhelming, and it still is.